Versailles #74: Commission Impossible
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The incredible story of the Paris Peace Conference addresses that all important question of: should they not really have been finished this madness by now?! The Counterproposals had by now been absorbed, and from the beginning it was clear that they were bound to cause divisions. Not mere technicians or delegates, but full blown PRIME MINISTERS were determined to lead these divisions. Lloyd George, after supporting just as many difficult clauses as his peers, was now convinced, after having met with his peers in the British Empire delegation, that the Treaty as it stood was unacceptable. If the Treaty was not changed, the PM claimed, then he would have to be allowed return to Parliament back in London, in a tactic not dissimilar to Vittorio Orlando, to justify it. In the PM's sights were arguably the most sensitive clauses which had been agreed, and he potentially had enemies in each.
The Rhineland occupation, Clemenceau's proudest achievement perhaps, was under threat from the PM's revisionist gaze. Britons, LG claimed, would never accept the occupation. Few of his delegates would even consider it, and they would not approve of British soldiers marching into Germany to enforce the peace based on this clause. Clemenceau was apoplectic, and we know this from the conversations he shortly shared with his counterparts, but the minutes of the Council of Four remained sickly polite and familiar, as though the PM wasn't angling to tear up months of work which he had played no small role in creating.
But that wasn't all - Upper Silesia would need a plebiscite, Germany must be invited into the League sooner, or perhaps instantly, and reparations must be fixed to a certain figure. These concessions, claimed Lloyd George, were the only way to fuse peace to the international order, and guarantee peace between France and Germany. That said, Lloyd George scoffed at the idea that war would return to Europe, or that Germany would pose a threat to France, for at least another 30 or 50 years. Certainly, the PM claimed, Germany and France would not be at each other's throats again in a mere 15 years, so what was Clemenceau so worried about? In fact the PM was correct, the Nazis annexed the Rhineland in 16, not 15 years, but he was bound to be wrong about virtually everything else. Whether he owned these errors or not, they threatened to undo everything which the big three had worked towards since they had first landed in Paris...
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